Novelists! Writing a Script? Read This

July 15, 2013 by in category Blogs tagged as , , with 0 and 0
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I’ve written 28 books. I am a USA Today and Amazon best selling novelist. I worked with New York publishers for 25 years. I launched an indie career three years ago. I have taught writing at the UCLA Writers Program, conferences and lectured to writing groups. I thought I was pretty savvy. I thought I could write anything. Then I met my Waterloo. I wrote a screenplay. Actually, I wrote two.

My first one was an original romantic comedy, Saving Seymour, and my second a psychological thriller based on Keeping Counsel, my USA Today bestseller. Both are in development, both have attachments, but the first one almost sent me to the cliff. Generally, what I learned during the process of writing Saving Seymour is as follows:

  • Writing a screenplay is one of the most difficult things a writer can do. 
  • Listen to your producer if you’re lucky enough to have one. He/she truly does know what he/she is talking about even though they don’t write. 
  • When you’re done, don’t buy your dress (or rent your tux) for the red carpet. In the years it takes to actually produce a movie your tastes are bound to change. 

By the time I wrote my second script, I learned a few specific things that made the transition from novelist to screenwriter a lot less crazy making. Here are the top five tips:

  • Be focused. You have minutes to establish whose story it is and the tone of your script. The leisure of a novelist’s scene setting is out the window. Know who your hero is, what the arc is, where the story takes place and what is critical to the telling of the tale. 
  • Be brief. Keep direction to a minimum. Your job is to communicate the story with just enough force, intelligence and excitement that director and actors can interpret that story visually and orally. 
  • Be budget conscious. Okay, you’re not a line-producer, but you can make a difference as to whether producing your movie is attractive for investors. Keep set pieces to a minimum and you not only streamline the story, you streamline the budget. 
  • Be hyper-aware of dialogue. Dialogue needs to be natural, informative & evocative with an eye toward time conservation. Choose your words carefully. Rethink sentence structure. Tighten, Tighten. The reader of a book loses herself in dialogue; a moviegoer will be lost if you don’t get to the point. 
  • Show-don’t-tell. A sense of urgency can be communicated by showing a car speeding away than through dialogue urging a character to hurry. If there is a place where a visual will communicate more than dialogue, use it. 

Visit me at: http://www. Rebeccaforster.com. Look for my books on Amazon.com (print & digital), iBookstore, Barnes & Nobel.com, etc. etc. (digital),or Audible.com. I’ll let you know the minute I get my dress for the premiers of Saving Seymour and Keeping Counsel. In the meantime, happy writing; stay sane.

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A Slice of Orange started in 2004 as a group of authors from Orange County, California. We have expanded to include authors from around the globe–from the UK, all across the US to New Zealand. Our authors include the multi-published and writers at the beginning of their publishing career. In addition to authors, we feature blog posts from editors, PR professionals, and cover designers. The bright segments of the writing and reading community that make up one perfect entity—A Slice of Orange.
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